Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Hamlet of Saranac Lake

apa headquarters

By Mark Wilson and Stephen Erman 

A drama of Shakespearean size is unfolding at the Adirondack Park Agency. As 2024 begins, the regulatory body finds itself wading through legal and ethical issues on a freshwater wetlands at the western edge of the Village of Saranac Lake. The wetlands flow from the base of Dewey Mountain, under the George LaPan Memorial Highway, along the high school grounds and into Ampersand Bay on Lower Saranac Lake. The entire wetlands complex lies within the designation of “hamlet” on Park Agency maps, a land-use classification covering the entire village. In agency jargon, “hamlet” applies to areas of the Adirondack Park subject to the fewest APA regulations.

Some critical regulations apply nonetheless. Among these, shoreline setback minimums for construction projects and wetland development restrictions for the protection of water quality. Last March the agency lost a legal case stemming from a freshwater wetlands permit it granted for the expansion of a marina on Ampersand Bay. The court found the agency ignored its own wetlands protection classification and ordered the agency to rescind the permit. After meeting with marina developers to discuss the project moving forward, agency staff made an abrupt about-face, deciding the project did not need a wetlands permit after all. Instead, it required only a setback variance, a lower regulatory hurdle for the developer to clear.

The agency’s reversal and the undisclosed communications between the developer and APA staff prompted further lawsuits from the marina’s neighbor, former NYSDEC Commissioner Thomas Jorling, and two environmental advocacy groups. These cases will stretch into the new year. Loosening protections for Ampersand Bay’s wetlands factored into a separate story last year. In June, Park Agency Executive Director Barb Rice unveiled a plan to relocate APA headquarters to downtown Saranac Lake, her hometown. The plan calls for a long-term lease with the village to occupy a historic building at the Lake Flower dam at the foot of Main Street. The lease would allow the agency to construct a companion multi-story, 19,000-square-foot office building and expand a parking lot on the same parcel.

Complicating Director Rice’s vision are the environmental and regulatory compromises the project will require. Specifically, adding an elevator shaft to the existing building within the fifty-foot setback from the Saranac River, the excavation of a hillside of mature trees to accommodate the new structure, and increasing the capacity of the parking lot fronting the river. Director Rice’s promotion of the move focuses largely on boosting the local economy, a rationale more consistent with her previous job in economic development in Governor Hochul’s office.
A greater complication would be the plan’s displacement of Saranac Lake’s police department, currently headquartered in the building the agency hopes to occupy.

A year ago, Saranac Lake Mayor Jimmy Williams proposed an expansive development of his own to move the village police station, fire department and rescue squad into a 70,000-square-foot emergency services complex to be built on a parcel of land on the Ampersand Bay wetlands. Initial drawings for the complex included a main access road crossing the wetlands, a feature which would need APA approval. This may have forced the agency into an awkward tradeoff: making a wetlands permit the currency of exchange for advancing its own goals. Unlike the village, where the chain of command is straightforward, the APA bureaucracy is subject to a more complicated decision-making structure involving not only Executive Director Rice, but the agency chairman, its commissioners, and ultimately the Governor’s office.

According to village trustees and a member of the emergency services, late last summer, Director Rice conditioned the APA’s downtown lease agreement on a promise from the village that it would seek no permits from the agency for a period of two years after signing. The permit embargo upset the village’s emergency service facility plan, undermining a consultant’s feasibility study. A committee lead by the mayor started exploring contingency plans rerouting emergency vehicle traffic away from the wetlands and through neighborhood streets in two school zones. Decision makers at the agency could not have anticipated this unintended consequence of avoiding the appearance of a quid pro quo.

Whether or not the village ultimately seeks a wetlands permit, the agency has already fulfilled its end of the bargain. In October, APA staff ignored agency regulations by not considering the emergency services complex in a full environmental review when it approved the property’s subdivision. An appropriate environmental review of the subdivision would have likely delayed the poorly-conceived project, complicating APA plans for a downtown headquarters. The Adirondack Park was created in 1892 as a reaction to 19th Century industrial devastation of the region’s landscapes and watersheds. Today, a restless duality lies beneath the foundation of the fifty-two-year old Adirondack Park Agency: the statutes that it administers mandate the agency’s protection of the Adirondack Park’s environmental resources. In its permitting of development on non-State lands, the agency must also consider the economic welfare of communities and residents within the Blue Line.

The APA is not an economic or community development organization. It is a regional land use planning and development permitting agency. Where economic and environmental considerations come into conflict, particularly in population centers like Saranac Lake, the agency must strike a balance where it can. However, when sensitive wetland resources are involved, development interests, including the agency’s own, must never trump environmental stewardship.

The new year may see resolution of the lawsuits over the agency’s protection of Ampersand Bay’s wetlands. It may also clarify the agency’s decision to relocate its headquarters, with the consequential downstream effects that decision will have on the community and the environment. The deeper question facing Executive Director Rice and her staff is how they see the agency’s role both in protecting the environment and following its own rules and regulations.

Paraphrasing Shakespeare: “To regulate or not to regulate, that is the question.”


We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.

Photo at top: A rendering shows the Paul Smith’s Power and Light Building at 1-3 Main St. in the village of Saranac Lake as the Adirondack Park Agency’s new headquarters. The agency would build a 19,000-square-foot addition behind it and a new parking lot. Rendering provided by the Adirondack Park Agency.

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

59 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    The existing structure/improvements are questionable. Expanding the complex in that location seems illogical.

  2. Lee Nellis says:

    Now might be a good time for the Almanack to revisit the conversations it hosted when the previous Executive Director resigned. While no one then anticipated this specific evolution of things, it should not be a surprise.

  3. James says:

    There is absolutely no proof of the secret meetings and communications these two people continue to lob against the agency. Yet you allow it to be published.

    Further, the claims about limited environmental review are equally without merit. The village of saranac lake did the seqra review you requested last February when they approved the 33 Petrova subdivision. These two did nothing and said nothing. Agency permits are not subject to seqra, yet, even when this subdivision was approved, these two did nothing. No article 78 was filed, no challenge to the approval was made. Just a bunch of editorials and letters and rabble rousing. Why? Because they have nothing. You both should be so lucky to have anything locating within downtown saranac lake.

    Steve – remember former state employees have a lifetime bar regarding things they may have worked on while they worked for the state.

    • Note: This post has been edited to remove untrue statements about the Almanack and its editorial policy. Our commenting policy can be found here:

      • James says:

        “Posts with unsubstantiated claims, or false assertions, along with blatant self-promotion will be flagged and possibly removed.”

        So why were Steve and Mark allowed to publish this post in the first place, unsubstantiated claims and false assertions abound, particularly with respect to ? Should the commenting policy not also apply to the “journalism” of guest posters and their veiled, ominous and fictional barbs of undisclosed conversations and secret meetings?? Allowing these falsities to remain in this post calls into question the accuracy and neutrality of both the posters and the Explorer, which is supposed to be neutral in reporting the news and not on an anti-agency or anti-village bent… please do better.

        • This piece is a commentary. You are more than welcome to submit your own rebuttal piece, if you’d like.

          We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.

          • Paul says:

            Isn’t this part completely false?

            “A greater complication would be the plan’s displacement of Saranac Lake’s police department, currently headquartered in the building the agency hopes to occupy.”

            The police and fire departments have already decided to move to the other site. It’s a way better set up with them both at the same location with way more space. But to make it sound like this is making the police move is totally inaccurate.

        • Lee Nellis says:

          It is so convenient to deflect the conversation onto the behavior or mis-behavior of particular commentators. But if they “have nothing” and the decision is such a great one, why bother to do that?

          I am not alleging that there has been any actionable mis-conduct in this case. There probably has not, though if NY followed the strict appearance of fairness doctrine that prevails in some other states, there might be legitimate questions. I also understand and, as a former resident and property owner, share the desire to support the viability of downtown SL. The Village has made many contributions to that goal.

          But this isn’t spending a bit of public money to help re-point a facade or improve a park. This is a big development with multiple potential impacts on the river, circulation (both pedestrian and vehicular) and the events hosted in the park, the appearance of downtown SL, and probably more. Having been professionally involved in similar and larger public works projects, and having seen no evaluation of the alternatives, I do wonder if this will turn out to be a good choice. And when It also involves at least one highly visible person who stands to benefit politically, I wonder more.

          Given all that, I just don’t see the level of communication and public engagement that the Village and APA should, and should continue to, be making. I especially don’t see it being used, as it could be, to counter the APAs reputation (a reputation that it has IMO earned) of being non-responsive to public concerns.

          It should not be surprising, therefore, that potentially inaccurate and distressing dialogue finds it way into one of the few forums available. I hope the Almanack will continue its role as a sounding board and medium of free expression.

          • Boreas says:

            Well said!

          • Gerald says:

            I would love to know what other state agencies in any other part of New York ever involve the public in any portion of their site selection, feasibility and design processes. The answer, of course is that none of them do. The state police don’t ask you where they’re going to put their next troop barracks, the Department of Health doesn’t ask you when they’re going to move from one building to a new building, and the state, education department, or the department of environmental conservation, don’t ask the public about the design of any of their regional offices or headquarters buildings. So why would the Adirondack Park Agency? What you were asking them to do goes 180° against the way the office of General services runs this process 100% of the time for a hundred plus years.

            There’s a fine line between free expression and spreading libelous rumors… Let’s hope the discourse continues civilly without stooping to the level that the authors have stooped to.

            • Lee Nellis says:

              So doing things a particular way for a long time makes it right (or a least inevitable)?

              It is true that a state agency shifting offices from one leased space to another hardly ever has impacts that necessitate public review. And that’s more or less true of most (not all) new office buildings, public or private. Basic due diligence is sufficient. But that’s not what this is.

              For one thing, the onus is on the VIllage, not the State, in this instance and sound local planning and management should proactively involve the public in all consequential decisions. I speak from experience to say that doing so has many benefits, including promoting civility because people feel that they have been consulted and, at least arguably, heard even if they still disagree with the outcome.

              Beyond that, APA’s enabling act imposes, as well it should, substantial environmental requirements on landowners and extensive review of public land management decisions. Is not what’s sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander? How much posirive influence and credibility can the APA expect to have if it doesn’t subject itself to the same requirements it imposes on others?

              We are all living in a time where governance seems to be devolving from well-considered (and courteous) deliberation to the raw application of power. Unless that’s what we want, the Village and APA owe their constituents a better process.

  4. Johnathan Esper says:

    I’ve never heard a clear laid out reason why the existing APA building in Ray Brook cannot but used, with an add-on expansion if needed on the ample level ground they have around their existing building. It would certainly be cheaper. It feels like a wanton waste of taxpayer dollars where if they don’t use the grant, they lose it. But wasteful spending on money, even others’ money, should never be the default.

    • Bobbie Leamer says:

      I agree totally. I can’t see any reason why the APA needs to move. I think there is room for expansion there if necessary. The land designated as wetlands needs to be preserved at all costs, it can’t be made wetlands again once it is used or abused. It is criminal that the APA has refused to put its foot down on letting the marina use the wetlands area next to Ampersand Bay at all. The storage barns that Duso had were falling down and needed to be rebuilt but the marina’s plans to dredge the shoreline —absolutely not!

      • Suzanne says:

        Agree! I don’t understand why the APA feels the need to move from their current location. It’s well situated between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, as well as being in the heart of the Adirondack mountains. The APA should instead look at spending funding on regulations that will help maintain unique wetlands and other environmental concerns as well as regulatory policies. Forget the bricks and mortar, the pretty color pallets, and the new construction. It’s time for the APA to look at being a steward for the environment instead of commercial development. They continue to turn their heads away from issues of protecting the environment and the surrounding wetlands.

  5. ADKresident2 says:

    The motivations for the current proposal appear to be affected by an inherent conflict of interest and self-dealing by the current Director. Maybe there should be no such concerns, but the burden is on the impacted parties to dispell them. They haven’t, and apparently haven’t made any attempts to explain why those who stand to personally benefit from the proposal do not need to be recused from the decision making process.

  6. Gerald says:

    How is the burden on the impacted parties dispell them? You’ve contrived a made up straw man that the executive director stands to benefit personally with no evidence to back it up. You should have to present your evidence before you slander Barb Rice. What, are the APA employees going to go to rice furniture (a company she is no longer officially part of) and buy a dining room set on their lunch 1/2 hour? Give me a break. You and other misinformed folks continue to level unsubstantiated accusations against a family that has only ever given to the saranac lake community. Decades of donations and community support for things like winter carnival and downtown Halloween and so many other things that have made saranac lake great for so long. You also neglect to mention that the APA is governed by a board appointed by the Governor. The board will be the ones who ultimately decide on a move, and not the executive director.

  7. Doug Haney says:

    Adirondack residents, especially Saranac Lakers, please take a moment to think deeply about these projects.

    Both organizations insist that the projects are separate from each other. It’s a position that is hollow at best, disingenuous at face value, but ultimately probably more accurately described as a lie. This commentary can help you personally decide which description is most accurate.

    Setting aside any possible conflicts of interest, both projects and the organizations presenting them, have not yet addressed if either will provide the greatest possible benefit for the community as a whole in both the short and longterm.

    Reason being, neither seems interested in trying.

    Let’s start with the APA headquarters. If a 19,000 square foot office building can fit on an undeveloped corner of 1-3 Main Street, how many apartments could fit in a building of that size?

    What would the economic impact be – both in annual taxes and from new year-round residents – from a privately owned apartment building and the people living in it?

    How would that weigh against the currently untaxed property and the impact of APA employees, most of whom live in, or near the Village of Saranac Lake already?

    The same questions can be posed to the Village of Saranac Lake for 33 Petrova/St. Pius. At 15 acres, how many housing units – apartments, townhomes or otherwise – could fit there? What could the potential economic impact be from new residents, more kids in schools, more potential employees for a community that continually struggles with workforce hiring at all levels?

    How would that weigh against the cost of maintaining a 70,000 square foot building that generates zero jobs and pays zero taxes?

    None of which takes into account build costs.

    Put simply, it’s hard for me to understand the positive economic impact, or measurable value to the community, from building new tax funded buildings, on properties that do not generate tax revenue, for people who already live here.

    If the APA and Village of Saranac Lake leadership cared about economic impact for a community that is shrinking due to the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing, it would take these questions seriously. Or at least genuinely try. So far, they haven’t. And they probably won’t unless more people ask.

    I’ll keep asking and hope more will too.

    • Lee Nellis says:

      Ah, the idea of alternatives! Hear hear, Mr Haney.

    • Polly says:

      What horde of new people are moving here looking for low income housing? It’s a quixotic windmill. With a vacancy rate in saranac lake of 19%, wouldn’t it be more cost effective to help families afford and fix up the 19% of homes that are vacant currently without building more apartments? It would allow these families to build equity in a way apartments never will. People have housing, the municipality has an emergency services building and the APA moves to saranac lake. These three things don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

    • George L says:

      The Armory just up the road is maintained, but appears to be unused. The building is as large as the Paul Smith’s building plus the proposed new APA structure. There is existing parking. Why was this location rejected?

    • Adele Connors says:

      Thank You Doug,
      Although I do not live in Saranac Lake I have been following this quite closely and the points you have made seem valid and to the point exactly.
      One hopes the powers involved will rethink this plan and let some much needed light shine in on how it got to this plan.

  8. ADKresident2 says:

    Of course the person who has an apparent conflict is the one to dispel it – otherwise a party without access to the relevant information would be required to satisfy the impossible test of proving a negative. Seems straightforward and seems like you’re a bit defensive about this obvious and really unremarkable issue – what’s your bias?

  9. JJ says:

    This is a win for the Village.

  10. ADKresident says:

    Isn’t it interesting that there are millions of $$’s available to construct a ‘new building’ for the APA (in one article, so they don’t have to travel so far for lunch as one of the reasons), leaving the current one vacant and [no doubt] soon there will be an article posted regarding the present blueline ‘housing’ crisis?

    When will we, ‘as the people’ start to connect the dots that there is always money flowing/available for gov agencies and their pet projects & buildings whose missions are supposedly ‘for the people’ and the ‘greater good of all’ while totally neglecting the people they supposedly are serving, You mean to tell me this same idea to build for ‘them’ cannot be part of the solution to create more affordable housing opportunities? So much is backwards now it’s ridiculous.

    • Polly says:

      These things don’t need to be mutually exclusive. We can have funds to help alleviate the housing crisis and invest in our chronically underfunded state agencies. Both can be true. There are probably dozens of questionable programs in the new budget that will receive 10x what that APA gets in its annual budget. The APA is a state agency that has been underfunded for the entirety of its 50 year history yet is still responsible for overseeing 6 million acres of land, an area bigger than several U.S. states and 20% of the land mass of New York. Yet they receive 0.003% (yeah you read that right) of the total New York State budget, not counting the amount for the new HQ. Even counting the money for the HQ that number only jumps to 0.01% of the total budget. Other agencies like DEC get hundreds of millions. You can’t criticize the agency for not being able to do their job because they are always underfunded and then complain when the government finally invests in them for the first time in 50 years…. I am sure that DEC will be able to find something to do with the old APA building with their hundreds of millions of dollars. Maybe something for our awesome rangers.

      • ADKresident says:

        My reply was more the principal, not the specifics. I agree that ‘things don’t need to be mutually exclusive’, however, that is the exception not the norm. It never fails: Gov gets what they want and our tax $$s pay for them to kick cans down the road as they fend for themselves first. How many millions go towards administrative, overhead, benefits, salaries, marketing and communications that do more talking ‘about the problems” while accomplishing very little for the $$s invested. (generally, speaking)

        But in this case, how is it acceptable that the APA can build a new building without the public knowing of the plans and exactly what will be done with the old one as well as the timeline that it will remain vacant? I’m sorry, but the “DEC will be able to find something to do with the old APA building” is not good enough. It could potentially become an eye sore for years before anything happens. Every gov agency no matter how largely or minutely funded need to be held accountable in full disclosure just as much, if not more than the average citizen and small business owner does when it comes to relocating and/or taking any action in the park, whether it be building new or vacating the old.

        • Paul says:

          They have made it clear what they are going to do with the old building – tear it down. There was a good story at the explorer where Rice told about what is wrong with the building. The story had a picture of some of the decaying logs. The place was build with recovered logs from the 1950’s blowdown. It’s time for a new modern home. I don’t really see that part as even debatable. That’s why they already have been earmarked for the money.

          • ADKresident says:

            This is the first time I’ve heard of it being torn down. Thanks for the clarification.

            I have no doubt then that they will build their new, modern building in Saranac Lake, particularly if that is the location of their desired choice.

            • Paul says:

              I am inferring from the comments about how the building could not be renovated and the fact that it appears to be rotting apart that it would eventually be torn down.

      • Rob says:

        Polly our tax dollars should not be going to affordable housing!!

    • Boreas says:

      “Affordable housing” is not a sexy issue in government – after all, everyone needs affordable housing. Building new, “shiny things” are sexy. The more prominent the project, the sexier it is. Sexy = votes.

  11. Donna Day says:

    The APA move and the Emergency Services plan is over the top; how are these projects going to be sustainable economically to this small village especially in five to seven years when more retirees have grown in the population?
    The housing market is a bigger and more immediate problem; let’s focus on that to build a stronger base for remaining in Saranac Lake. So much money on these projects with no immediate economic outcome but bleeding tax payers wallet.

  12. Keith J Murphy says:

    Excellent column Mark and Steve! I have no doubt that you can back-up all of your statements.

  13. Jim Abendroth says:

    The two gentlemen who contributed this article are not the only people who have questions about these two projects they are referring to. I attended a hastily scheduled meeting at Lake Flower Landing in Saranac Lake in December which 25 community members attended (including two SL Village Board members) and almost all attendees had serious questions about the village emergency services project and concern about a lack of transparency and public input in the planning and development of this project and the proposed move of the APA into downtown Saranac Lake.
    The organization Adirondack Voters for Change made a written request back in October to APA officials and to Mayor Jimmy Williams of Saranac Lake that a public informational meeting be held regarding the proposed APA move in order that the public gain a full understanding of the proposal (this request appeared in the ADE on 10/12/23). In response APA Director Barbara Rice stated in December that the APA was planning a public information session in January – hopefully that might still occur. Subsequently Mayor Williams stated in November that he will open a public question and answer period regarding the emergency services facility project. These questions and answers are to be posted on the “Project” page of the village website (no postings as of yet). This will purportedly be followed by a public informational meeting, however this may not happen soon as Mayor Williams said in an ADE article on i/11about such a public meeting “… I don’t know if that’s going to be in the next two months or the next five months.”
    Unfortunately, until the public gains access to a full disclosure of information about the decision-making process for these two important projects there will continue to a barrage of questions, opinions and LTE’s for and against them. In order for the Village of Saranac Lake and the APA to gain public support for these two projects there must be planning processes which are fully transparent and which consider the input of a well-informed citizenry.

    • Mark Wilson says:

      Unfortunately for the Park Agency, the damage has already been done and cannot be easily undone. If the goal of the the agency’s commissioners and those in Albany who guide agency decisions is to avoid the appearance of conflict—as it should be for an agency that has struggled since its inception to gain public support—proximity to a family business that bears the Executive Director’s name, particularly when the chief rationale for relocating is economic stimulus, just looks bad. Regardless of what benevolent motives may have prompted the decision, the appearance of a conflict is baked in and will only confirm the worst suspicions of APA’s detractors. It will also lose support of people who believe in the agency’s mission, but fear that mission has been abandoned. Moreover, visitors to the new building, particularly those who have been denied shoreline setback variances for their own properties, will likely leave with an overriding impression of agency hypocrisy.

      Likewise in its dealings over the Village of Saranac Lake’s plans for an emergency services building on the Ampersand Bay wetlands, the agency faces a Hobson’s choice: either it grants the village a wetlands permit, a move which looks like the sort of Albany back-room dealings that most Adirondackers abhor, or it forbids a wetlands permit, leaving the mayor no option other than redirecting emergency traffic through neighborhood streets and school zones.

      At this point any effort by the agency to put the toothpaste back in the tube is likely meaningless. The proposed public hearing on the relocation will merely look like an attempt by the agency to cover its rear end if, as is likely, it goes ahead with the relocation.

      Executive Director Rice has promoted APA headquarters move as transformational. The agency may well be on its way to transforming its own reputation. And not in a good way.

      • George L says:

        This is just a detail, but how can the weekend farmer’s market survive with no parking for vendors and customers for 2-3 summers of construction?

        SL Mayor and APA Executive Director:

        What’s wrong with the Armory up the road?

      • Paul says:

        Again, this “proximity to a family business” is not a conflict? Explain how moving a state agency involved in land use regulation would somehow benefit a Saranac Lake furniture business? This is nonsense.

        • Mark Wilson says:

          Perhaps this is a question best asked of Director Rice. Having served Governor Hochul as Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, she argued that the relocation would boost the local economy. Now there’s an important distinction to be made between conflict of interest and the appearance of a conflict. The first rule of democratic governance: when making public decisions, avoid any conflict of interest; when making controversial public decisions, avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

          • Polly says:

            Good thing there is a board at the APA Mark that will make the final decision and not Director Rice. The board will vote for the move and you’ll no longer have a conflict of interest leg to stand on. What will you fall back on then when the 11 member board says it’s ok? You won’t be able to drag Director Rice through the mud anymore because you don’t want fire trucks driving past your house. There’s always NIMBY though….

            • ADKresident2 says:

              Why the selection or focus on this particular site in the first place, to the exclusion of others? Isn’t that the conflict question? If only the Board’s actions were transparent, a Board debate and vote might alleviate that concern. But that doesn’t seem to be how this Board works.

              • Polly says:

                Every single APA board meeting is open to the public and also broadcast online. There is no dealing by the APA board in secret. As the hq project is apparently still in the feasibility stage, the final decision to issue a permit by the apa board is probably still a long way off. But it will be public and the board will have to issue the state agency permit, not the executive director.

                are you referring to a different board?

                • George L says:

                  I believe that Adkresident2 is referring to the secretive, opaque, ill-considered, inappropriate, negatively-impactful, and predetermined site selection process itself, not the APA permit down the road

                  • Polly says:

                    No, I don’t think that’s it. I mean, it’s a real estate negotiation. Why would they go to the trouble of informing the public while they are trying to negotiate with the village while conducting a number of feasibility studies to make sure the property is even buildable and won’t take hundreds of millions to do a clean up or other site improvements? If they do a feasibility study and the site isn’t viable they would have wasted everyone’s time and input on a nothing burger. I think you are putting the cart before the horse.

                    • George L says:

                      Actually, choosing the PS site is a political decision, not a real estate negotiation. The public, which will have to live with the decision for the next 50 years, was excluded and deliberately kept in the dark. Presumably because the PS location is so obviously inappropriate. There is not a single good reason to support this scheme. And it is a scheme. You can’t escape the fact that the APA could build what it wants on Raybrook. What a tainted legacy for the SL Mayor and the APA Director.

                  • Polly says:

                    No George, that’s incorrect. The public did have a voice. You and me and everyone else here elected a legislature to be the voice of the people and those elected officials appropriated the funds to site the APA headquarters in saranac lake. That’s how taxation with representation works. The APA I am sure will have a public info meeting to let all of the nosey folks Have a look at the status of the project and there will be time I’m sure to comment when the APA board and the village of saranac lake have public hearings on the approvals that are needed from both. You and others seem hyper focused on the lie that people working at the agency will be forced to by furniture from a certain store but that is the real lie. Not that the main intent of the project is economic development but in addition to the “piddly lunches” you think will not help downtown restaurants, there are construction jobs for the project that will not only bring incomes to those workers, but also create need for lodging and meals and groceries and gas and all the other things construction workers buy.

                    Despite all of this, the single good reason you look for remains that the APA is going to live what they preach by funneling development, themselves included, to our hamlets, and not places in the middle of nowhere next to protected wilderness where you would prefer they cut down trees next to their existing headquarters. Encouraging development in our hamlets should be something we can all rally around. They certainly need it.

                    • George L says:

                      The positive economic impact of the APA HQ construction will be the same in Raybrook or SL. The negative social impact of the project will be massive in SL and non-existent in Raybrook. It’s not too late for SL Mayor and APA Director to save their rapidly plunging reputations.

  14. Paul says:

    Sorry, how is just residing in the town where the agency might move be a conflict for the director.

  15. Chris says:

    A lot of focus on COI … perhaps a little transparency about the other acronym — NIMBY — would go a long way, too. I’m speaking specifically to the proposed site of the emergency services headquarters. The most vocal opposition is coming from folks who live right in the immediate vicinity. I get it — no one wants to see their character of their neighborhood impacted. But I suppose moving it to the Armory, where the nearest neighbors are in a low-income housing project is fine? (Heavy sarcasm implied in that last sentence.)

    • Chris says:

      I’ll add that the folks who live in the Harrietstown Housing Authority buildings (right next to the police department) and the firehouse on Broadway, have silently dealt with the traffic and noise associated with both facilities for years. But again, I suppose the elderly and the low-income just have to deal with that kind of thing. (Again, sarcasm, to be clear.)

      • George L says:

        Transform the Armory into low-income housing

        Build a new APA building on the site of the present one

      • George L says:

        Move the Police Department into all or part of the PS building

        Expand the Fire Department to the rear of the current building – do whatever it takes

        • Paul says:

          I think that Brendan Keough has already made it clear that the FD cannot expand where they are, and the current location is less than ideal. It sounds like the PD and FD both strongly support moving to the location of the old school. Why not, for once, we just let the people who know what they are doing make the decisions?

  16. Jessica Ackerson says:

    I’m dubious of this project. The building seems large for the space that they’re putting it, almost like it’s getting shoe horned in. This parking lot is used extensively for events and farmer’s markets at the park. Though they’re planning on expanding parking, will it be enough and will event goers and vendors be able to use it?
    It seems like they have far more space to build where they’re currently located than in this awkward spot.
    While I know the Paul Smith’s building costs the village a lot to maintain and creates consistent financial loss, there are better option than this.

  17. Linda says:

    Wondering impact on resident’s Village Taxes? And less $ for other projects?

  18. Ren Davidson Seward says:

    To my knowlegde, Saranac Lake has not entertained a project of $27 million before. It’s no question that our first responders need upgraded facilities, but what is proposed seems oversized for our community, especially considering the other urgent needs that have been identified, especially sewer and water lines, affordable housing, etc. Proceeding with a proposal that does not adequately address wetlands issues (especially when the new Tupper Lake firehouse is facing fallout from wetlands) and the impact on the neighborhood where it is slated to be moved, Eschewing public comment, and not being transparent about the cost to taxpayers is concerning. Both the APA move and our police leaving downtown feel like the character of our Village will irrevocably be changed.

  19. Joe Poliquin says:

    It seems both the move of the APA to the Village and all the Saranac Lake Emergency Serices to Petrova Avenue are ill conceived. Both raise issue that are questionable and controversial and will cause dismay to a large number of people if they move forward as currently outlined. APA has the option to rebuild on its current site. The Village can work with its 2 current locations and build or re-build on them as originally planned. These seem like better and easier options all around.

  20. Ren Davidson Seward says:

    What a lot of people are asking for is to make room for constructive dialogue to achieve the smartest growth that is in concert with the identity of our community. To my mind, successful urban planning requires a holistic vision that has not been presented to the community. We need an outline of what’s been taken into account already. We need an overview of properties currently-owned by the village for EMTs, police and fire and understand how those properties are all going to be repurposed to best advantage in the most cost effective way before we give over one of those properties to the APA proposal. At the moment what we have in the APA move is one piece of a very big puzzle. Plus we have an outside consultant firm who has analyzed how one newly-purchased parcel can be developed. What might a plan B look like?

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